It was a rather controversial move for both users and some government regulators, but the trend of removing the charging brick from smartphone boxes might become standard soon. Apple started it, and Samsung followed suit after mocking it. Google will soon be next, apparently, as the company made it publicly known that the Pixel 6 won’t ship with a charger either, for the exact same and sometimes questionable reasons its peers have been pushing since last year.
There are two main aspects to manufacturers’ decision to ditch the charger that shipped with smartphones. The less obvious but more understandable reason is to keep prices down, even by just a bit. Reducing what’s shipped in the box, which could reduce the size of the box itself, and reducing the need to produce as many chargers as there are smartphones also reduces the overall cost.
And then, there are the environmental reasons that these companies are presenting as the primary cause for the change in direction. It supposedly reduces electronic waste, but its effects are harder to quantify, especially given how new the practice is. Some countries have even forced Apple to include a charger in the iPhone 12 boxes or face fines.
While it’s true that almost everyone has a USB charger these days, the situation isn’t as black and white. In addition to differences in ports and output, some phones also have proprietary fast-charging technologies that will require specific chargers to use. There is the possibility that the cost of chargers and e-waste will just be offloaded to third-party manufacturers.
Regardless of that context, there is probably no stopping Google from shipping the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro without chargers. With three major smartphone brands (four if you include Xiaomi) on that train, this practice of ditching chargers might soon become the de facto standard. Of course, that won’t stop manufacturers from advertising new fast-charging technologies, in which case you’ll definitely end up buying a charger separately anyway.